France fan zone organiser apologises for Hong Kong World Cup celebrations but glad it was not as bad as in Paris

Some supporters were injured after being hit in the face with unopened beer cans but decided not to involve the police

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 July, 2018, 8:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 July, 2018, 2:03pm

As the French community rallies round to pay for HK$40,000 worth of damage to the Kerry Hotel and their reputation, Overseas French Association of Hong Kong (UFE) president Marc Guyon has apologised for the actions of his fellow football fans in the aftermath of Sunday’s World Cup final.

“We were expecting some loud cheering and potential problems, but not that,” Guyon said of the damage, which included damage to screens, carpet and chairs, plus broken tables.

“I believed our young French people in Hong Kong to be more educated than the average Frenchman living in France,” he said, although Sunday may have changed his mind.

“I understand someone can pour some beer on the floor by accident because they are jumping and cheering too much, but I am still shocked that some people even threw whole unopened cans to each other in the face.

“Some people were hurt, although they did not complain and report to us or to the police. I guess it is the silver lining in the story, they understand there is no need to make further mess, and that the damages are mainly due to accidental overexuberance.”

Not everyone let the side down, though.

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“At the end of the night, some people stayed and felt bad about what happened, and helped throw away the empty cans in rubbish bags.”

“I am sure many people in Hong Kong are surprised about the behaviour of the French people, but I wish to remind that the celebrations were much worse in France: cars and shops were literally attacked and destroyed.

Even still, Guyon feels the need to apologise.

“On behalf of the French community, I would like to apologise if some people have been disturbed by the behaviour of our community, at the hotel but also later in LKF and in Soho.”

The game was the first that the UFE had organised a screening for.

“We had to do something because it is our job to help the French community and try provide what they need,” Guyon explained. “They wanted a big event, a fan zone like there are in France. Not just be in a bar with 30-50 other supporters.

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“And it worked, the whole French community talked about our event, and even the French consul general changed his plans and came to our event.”

Over 1,500 fans attended the “fan zone” at the Kerry Hotel in Hung Hom and by the end of the game some of the fans had overindulged in the all-you-can-drink beer and celebrations.

The bill for the damage amounts to more than HK$40,000 but Guyon was warned during the event.

“They notified me on Sunday evening, although I had some hope they would actually not really do it, because we brought them a lot of business. All tickets and drink sales were for the hotel, 100 per cent of the benefits.”

With tickets priced at HK$200 per person that was HK$300,000 on Sunday night but still they were presented with the bill.

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Guyon has set up a crowd funding page to recoup the money owed and he is hoping the whole of the French community get behind it. “I expect people responsible for damages to pay more, but it is up to them. I expect a general feeling of solidarity, and also a little bit of patriotism, because it is the image of French people in Hong Kong which is at stake.”

“I know some people who have contributed although they were not there with us on that night, they just want to help anyway.”

It’s a point of national pride.

“We are not in France, we are welcomed abroad, we must respect the country, venues and people who welcome us and make our event possible, especially if we organise an event in a private place.”

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Guyon thanked the hotel staff and his own volunteers for organising the event and wants to put things right with the hotel.

“We are sorry about what happened and will do everything we can in order to pay for the recovery of the premises. We wish to maintain good relationships between hotels [and other event venue organisers] and the French community in general.”

As of 9am Thursday, Guyon’s crowdfunding page was 34 per cent of the way to squaring things up, having raised over HK$15,000.